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    BELARUS HOPES FOR QUICK SOLUTION TO RUSSIAN GAS PROBLEM

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    MINSK, January 23rd, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent Olesya Luchaninova) - The Belarussian government is hopeful that the problem of Russian gas deliveries to Belarus will be settled within the next two days, said First Vice Premier of the Belarussian cabinet Vladimir Semashko.

    In an interview with the first channel of the state Belarussian radio, Semashko said that a delegation of the Belarussian gas transport company, Beltransgaz, headed by Peter Petukh was leaving for Moscow today.

    The negotiations will be concluded tomorrow or on the day after tomorrow, and Belarus will receive enough gas to meet the country's needs, said the first vice premier.

    According to him, Russia will provide gas and electricity in relevant amounts.

    In December Belarus paid for all gas deliveries of 2003. We will continue to pay for the gas delivered to the republic in the future, Semashko asserted.

    He acknowledged that negotiations were making little progress but suggested that Belarus might buy the gas at lower prices than Ukraine.

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